After several weeks of accusations of profiteering by airlines, fares between the UK and Madrid for the Champions’ League final have slumped.
On Saturday 1 June, Liverpool meet Spurs in the final of Europe’s flagship football final at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in the Spanish capital.
Fares for nonstop flights from Liverpool, Manchester and the London airports have soared to well over £1,000, with BA setting a standard fare of £1,300 return from London Heathrow.
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But as airlines have piled on capacity to cash in on demand, fares are sinking fast.
A Friday evening flight outbound flight on Iberia nonstop from Luton to Madrid is currently only £97. The Spanish airline has deployed wide-bodied Airbus A330 jets on the route.
Hotel rates, which rose to above £500 per night for Friday and Saturday, have now fallen to well below £200 for a double.
Returning from the host city to Manchester in the early hours of Sunday morning on Iberia costs £146. The return flight – albeit one leg filled with Spurs fans and the inbound with Liverpool supporters – costs £243, typically one-quarter of the fares that most fans have paid.
As the biggest-ever surge of English football fans to a match abroad gets under way, airlines flying special charters to Madrid have been warned that fuel may not be available.
Tens of thousands of fans are converging on the city – some by road or rail, but most by air.
NATS, the UK air-traffic provider believes there will be 300 extra flights from Liverpool, Manchester and airports in the London area to Madrid. Pressure will be highest on Friday 31 May, which is likely to be the busiest day in history for British airspace.
“We are expecting to see a substantial increase in scheduled flights and private jets as fans are keen to travel and support their teams,” the organisation said.
Now Eurocontrol in Brussels has issued special instructions to carriers who are flying supporters to the event.
It warns that refuelling for aircraft operating “ad-hoc” charter flights from 30 May to 3 June is “not guaranteed”.
Airlines are also told: “It is essential that aircraft operators keep their current FPL [filed flight plan] updated with realistic EOBTs [estimated off-block time, ie when the plane starts to move] and comply with their coordinated airport slots.”
Permission to land and take off at specific times has been granted by Aecfa, the slot-coordination body for Spain, in collaboration with the national airport operator, Aena.
Eurocontrol said: “Flights that do not comply with their Spanish airport slot may be suspended by Eurocontrol on specific request of Aecfa/Aena.”
Small planes including business jets which are not flying to Madrid will not be able to nominate the airport as a diversionary destination without special permission from the airport manager.
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